Happy last day of April! WHOA, where are these months going! I’m quite excited, though, because it means the warmer weather is upon us.
April was my birthday month. And as I sat on the couch on my birthday eating a delicious microwavable cake my mom mailed me from across the country, I realized how much I’ve learned and how much I’ve grown as a person in my 25 years.
So, I thought it would be fun to share these things with you! Some of them have to deal with chronic illness; some don’t. So I hope, whether you have a chronic condition or not, you’ll find some of these inspiring.
- Listen to your body
- Make time for what makes you happy
- Never burn bridges
- The best breakfast sandwich recipe…
- Work out whenever your body allows it
- Friends will come and go
- If you’re a coffee drinker…
- Listen to podcasts
- Homemade iced tea is just as good as store bought
- Make a bedtime and morning routine
- Get outside whenever you can
- Be an advocate for your health
- Make the career change you’ve been wanting to make
- Vaseline is the best hand lotion
- Let yourself get bored
- Learn to say no
- Prioritize self-care
- Try to publish or sell your art
- Put peanut butter on pancakes
- Plan your meals around your workout
- Be kind
- Chew gum to prevent you from eating when you’re not hungry
- Social media can be wonderful if you use it to get social
- My disease isn’t about me anymore
- Don’t trust over-easy eggs at an airport restaurant
1. Listen to your body
This is so important for everyone, whether you have a chronic illness or not. If you feel tired, rest. If you feel burnt out, step away. If you start to feel weak, eat. Your body is smart. It’ll tell you what it needs.
2. Make time for what makes you happy
Life shouldn’t be about working your butt off during the week and then resting and having fun on the weekends. If there’s something that makes you happy, pursue it. Wake up earlier during the week and make art before you go to work. Write during your lunch break. If you can, take a half-day or even a few hours off regularly to pursue your passions.
3. Never burn bridges
I truly believe in severing relationships (of any kind) as cordially as possible, but I’m particularly speaking to work/professional relationships. Even if you’re quitting a job that you hate, be polite, express your gratitude for the experience, and leave on good terms. You never know how you might be able to help each other’s career in the future with referrals or letters of recommendation.
4. The best breakfast sandwich recipe…
…is one that my dad taught me when I was little. Make eggs over easy. Grill the bread on a skillet. Layer on bacon or ham. Add a slice of cheese. Mayo. Try it. It’s life-changing.
5. Work out whenever your body allows it
Exercising with a chronic illness is challenging. We’re oftentimes fatigued or in pain (or both). Even in remission—like I am now—I still experience poor sleep and joint pain, making it hard for me to want to work out. But whenever you can, whenever you have the energy, whenever your pain is lower, try to exercise, even if it’s just walking! It’ll likely help you feel a little better.
6. Friends will come and go
I’ve come to learn that some friends are forever and some, sadly, are only for periods of your life. All of them are special.
7. If you’re a coffee drinker…
…buy a whole bunch of flavors and then no matter what mood you’re in you’ll have the one you want! I currently have espresso, french vanilla, blueberry, shortcake, and coconut caramel.
8. Listen to podcasts
I have a new-found love for podcasts. They’re a nice change from music because they’re interesting and provide actionable tips for you. Two of my all-time favorites are Problogger by Darren Rowse and The Portfolio Life by Jeff Goins. If you’re a writer or blogger, you’ll LOVE these, too.
9. Homemade iced tea is just as good as store bought
Boil a mason jar-worth of water. Pour it in the jar over one bag of green or black tea and two bags of your desired main flavor. Set mason jar out in the sun for a few hours. Leave it in the fridge for a few hours (best overnight). Pour over ice and add lemon and maybe a little sugar. Enjoy.
10. Make a bedtime and morning routine…
…and stick to them! This will help you fall asleep more easily and get your day going efficiently.
11. Get outside whenever you can
Seriously. WHENEVER you can. I try to sit on our balcony and write for as long as possible. Or I’ll carry a lawn chair to the grassy common area of our apartment complex and write there. Or I’ll take a walk or go on a hike. Sunlight and fresh air are like medicine. Take advantage.
12. Be an advocate for your health
This is applicable to everyone, but especially if you have a chronic illness. Use your voice when seeing your doctor. Make sure you get all your questions answered and are actually a PART of any decision-making. Don’t be afraid to speak up.
13. Make the career change you’ve been wanting to make
I put this off longer than I should have. I was in an unfulfilling desk job on the phone all day, just dreaming of writing. I believe you should be HAPPY in your career. So do what’s necessary for your situation. Save up so you can make the leap. Start a side-hustle so you’re ready to slowly transition over. Or, just dive straight in. Your job should bring you fulfillment and happiness.
14. Vaseline is the best hand lotion
In the winter, my hands get so dry that they literally crack and bleed. Before you go to bed, slather your hands with Vaseline, and sleep with socks on your hands to keep them moisturized all night. Do this for as long as you need, but I normally start to see results the following morning!
15. Let yourself get bored
It births creativity. Instead of turning to your phone (I’m so guilty of this) whenever you’re bored or waiting for something, don’t. Let your mind wander. Your imagination will automatically try to fill gaps of boredom.
Grant Faulkner, author of Pep Talks for Writers, says, “Boredom is a creator’s friend, though, because your mind naturally resists such moments of stasis and seeks stimulation. Before our era of hyper connectivity, boredom was an occasion of observation, a wonderful juncture of daydream-ing—a time where one might conjure a new story idea while milking a cow or building a fire.”
16. Learn to say no
Saying no isn’t being rude. It’s a smart way to make sure you’re not overloading yourself with work or doing things that don’t contribute to your overall goal. Saying no helps you to not get burnt out. It’s healthy.
17. Prioritize self-care
Speaking of health, set time aside to practice self-care regularly. Self-care is commonly a major part of many treatment plans for people with chronic illness, but honestly, EVERYBODY should be prioritizing self-care. Relax in a bubble bath. Take a nap. Go outside. Work out. Meditate. Step away from your project. Whatever brings you peace, do it on the regular.
18. Try to publish or sell your art
Blogger and entrepreneur, Kristen Kieffer, says that creativity is worthy of compensation. If you can, don’t give away all your work for free. It took time and energy to create, and that should be rewarded.
19. Put peanut butter on pancakes
I’m convinced that THE BEST way to eat pancakes is with peanut butter slathered on them.
20. Plan your meals around your workout
Something that’s helped me feel like exercising is to plan my meals around the workout. Be conscious of what you eat for breakfast. You’ll need protein for strength and carbs for energy. If you work out later in the day, see how you feel around lunchtime and eat based on what your body needs for a successful workout. Maybe this’ll help you eat more balanced meals so your body is prepped for the best workout ever.
21. Be kind
Be kind to everyone, especially strangers. Literally everyone is fighting some kind of battle.
22. Chew gum to prevent you from eating when you’re not hungry
Ever been bored and decided to snack even though you kinda just ate? I’m constantly chewing gum so I’m not tempted to eat when I’m not hungry.
23. Social media can be wonderful if you use it to get social
You know how everyone’s saying that social media is turning everyone’s brains to mush? I believe that’s true only if you’re using social media wrong. If you use it to build authentic relationships—whether it’s with friends, your customers, or, for me, others with IBD—it’s actually very engaging and encourages personal and professional growth.
24. My disease isn’t about me anymore
Becoming a chronic illness advocate with Gali Health helped me realize that my ulcerative colitis isn’t about me anymore. Now it’s someone else’s turn. Of course, my story is still important, but no longer can everything revolve around my story. It’s time for me to give back, share what I’ve learned, and use my voice to help others, especially the newly-diagnosed.
25. Don’t trust over-easy eggs at an airport restaurant
Don’t entirely know why. But my mom told me this when I was young and I figured it was better to listen than to find out the hard way.
And that’s a wrap! 25 things in 25 years. Comment below if any of these resonated with you!
And happy birthday to all the other April babies out there! I hope everyone has a beautiful May.